10 tips for creating a unique character in Photoshop

Everyone has their favorite cartoon character, but not everyone knows how he first appeared on the screen or in a book. Creating a recognizable character always takes a lot of love and work.

Today we will sort out ten great tips and tell you everything you need to know to draw characters, using amazing examples from the Envato Market.

1. Choose a topic

Drawing a new character begins with the fact that you just look at the white sheet. It’s amazing, but at the same time scary, and sometimes it can discourage something to start. Therefore, the key to maintaining balance in such a situation – the choice of topics.

See how accurately the sea theme is maintained in this picture?

What do you want people to see, feel or understand immediately after seeing the picture? Let this feeling be the main point for all the work.

Start by simplifying the topic to visual single-word answers. Words like “western”, “retro” and “futuristic” describe different eras. On the other side of the spectrum, the epithets “boring”, “cool” or “villainous” convey style and personality.

Having picked up a subject, write down details which will help to strengthen it. Mark every detail perfectly suited to the drawing.

“Autumn” and “animal” – these two words perfectly describe the subject for a raccoon drawing.

2. Create backstory

Close your eyes. Imagine your character and how he goes through every stage of his life. From the moment of birth to the last “goodbye”, what kind of life should a hero live?

A snowman cannot exist without a cold, winter landscape.

Background includes all the necessary information. For its creation you will need to plunge into the study of different places, cultures, professions, etc. Getting to know your character is like meeting a new best friend. You need to know absolutely everything about him in order to transfer the prehistory to the canvas.

Here is a brief list of questions that will help in creating a story:

  • Where does he live?
  • Who are his parents?
  • Where he works?
  • Who is his best friend?
  • What kind of food does he like?
  • What is his favorite color?

Everyone knows that Sponge Bob Square Pants lives in a pineapple house and works as a cook at Krusty Krab. See the hints you can get from this list of questions?

How would the character be influenced by the fact that he would live in the USA, and not in Spain? Or lived in a different climate? It doesn’t matter if these questions seem silly, answer them as best you can, and even add even more points to this list. If you need help, start with a place that you know well.

3. Give the character a name and personality.

Hello my Name Is ___.

Your character is your child. You literally gave it life by creating it from the creative consciousness just a few minutes ago, so naturally you need to choose a suitable name for it.

Does a character look like Sally, Joe or Spot? Now children’s names are very creative, so why not come up with something original for your character? Explore the origin, meaning and correct pronunciation to find the perfect name.

And when you start to draw, constantly check whether the name fits. The character may turn from Steve into Stefan, so make sure you have enough space to change the name.

People become attached to personalities. Do you see yourself or someone you know in the character? Also, as in the creation of prehistory, make sure you understand your character, starting from his preferences and ending with his jokes. In the end, the more you know, the better it will be to transfer the idea to a stunning design.

4. Pick a view. A man, an animal or something else?

Whether the character will be human or animal is a serious decision. Maybe this is another creature, for example, a hippie-style pink flower or a very friendly robot.

Not every character must be human or live on Earth. And, depending on the story or need, even a person may not look very good. In addition, people are fairly one-dimensional, so consider the changes that come to mind when choosing new species.

This funny monkey is as cute as possible!

A distinctive feature when drawing animals – they can be both fun and ferocious.

If you still do not know which view to choose, think of your own! For proper anatomy, you can give it human or animal features. And all the other details depend on you, so have fun exploring the possible options and see what happens.

5. Tall, short, thin or strong?

Have you noticed that companions are usually smaller than the main character?

No matter how unfair it may seem, but such a deliberate neighborhood allows you to see the main character as a more confident leader.

See how a big head and glasses strengthen the “Bothan” look of this simple little man?

An unusual way to add a distinct personality to a character is to explore different body structures. The company has already formed labels or clichés about certain shapes and sizes, so we automatically convey what we know about the character with the help of his appearance.

Here is a tip:

Draw a floating head separately from the body. Then draw three different body variants and “try on” them to the head. Which option looks best and why?

This example will immediately demonstrate to you the convenience of drawing different builds. However, do not hesitate to go your own way so as not to become a victim of stereotypes.

6. It’s all about the mood: Color

All colors have meaning. Therefore, carefully select them to create the right mood for the picture.

Usually we see bright colors as joyful and energetic, while darker colors remain stubborn in their mystery. Red is perfect for rage and passion. Green is associated with nature or money.

What feelings do the colors of this strawberry monster have for you?

If you do not have a specific color for the character, try everything until you find the perfect one. Experiment with colors, choosing even those that you wouldn’t pay attention to. Make a cool guy pink or draw a businessman with blue hair.

Going beyond not only helps enhance the look, but also makes it more memorable.

7. Create dynamic poses.

I know that you want to do everything easier, but let’s diversify the approach to drawing. In addition to the standard posture from the front and from the back, try to create something dynamic and with a wide range of movements.

You can learn everything about how the character feels or what he wants, simply by paying attention to body language. Apply the knowledge gained during the creation of the prehistory and draw dynamic poses.

The author used dynamic poses to show mice love for music.

A good way to start is to explore poses from photographs. Photos can tell a lot about what automatically comes to mind when a certain word is mentioned. To show relaxation, you can draw a person leaning back in his chair and stretching his legs, as the upper left mouse in the picture above.

Creating dynamic postures is especially important for professional work. Let your character jump out of the screen on the customer’s laptop. These poses can also show the range and flexibility of the artist, so use the advantages of dynamic poses to show your talent!

8. Do you have your own style? Clothes and accessories

Do you like shopping? Save money and embody your unique sense of style for the fashionable outfit of your hero!

About the character you can say a lot, based on how he dresses. Each hero has his own, well-known “uniform”. In order not to wear ordinary work clothes, he must have his suit, which will become his hallmark.

The style of this hare is simple but memorable.

Spend enough time for each costume. Pay attention to small details, such as buttons, seams and overall cut. Perhaps the character imposingly refers to his style and prefers comfortable clothes or chooses a good suit and tie.

This cute gingerbread man is dressed with simple sugar icing lines.

When nothing else works, simplify. In the end, you will have to redraw your character many times, so clothes that are easy to draw from any angle can be a good option.

9. Express your character’s emotions

Make a stupid face. Now draw it. What would your hero look like with the same expression?

Expressions of emotions – the main way of communication when drawing characters. If you found your character at a certain moment of the day – what kind of emotion would be on his face?

A variety of emotions purple monster.

To learn more about different emotions, try the old technique that traditional artists have used since the beginning of time. Sit in front of the mirror and start making faces, showing a variety of emotions. The eyes, eyebrows and mouth very easily convey the internal state, so study these zones and learn how to determine the difference between each expression.

Mastering your emotions will take you a step closer to creating perfect characters. You can easily create many different emotions in a short time.

10. Create alternative versions.

Design is an experiment. Perhaps your character will look better in a hat or in a different suit. Use the original design as a template and try to create alternative versions.

A set of little talismans has a huge variety of different costumes and colors.

At this step, you will not interfere with the view from the outside. Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we look at our work and do not understand what is missing. Is everything ok with flowers? Maybe it is necessary to change the hairstyle? Looking at another person will help you notice what you have missed.

As in the example above, the character creation tutorial shows how you can create several different variations with one template.

Another advantage of alternative versions is that you can look at your character in different environments. See what looks best based on the right conditions.


Before you go drawing, let’s quickly go through all the tips. Use this list to revise items as you create your masterpieces!

1. Select a topic: Use single-word descriptions that are visually understandable.

2. Create a back story: Know everything about the character as if he were your best friend.

3. Give him a name and personality: Choose a name that fits the style and personality of the hero.

4. Choose a view: Decide whether to use a person, an animal, or maybe create your own.

5. Determine body type: Emphasize the character’s personality by making him tall, short, thin, or strong.

6. Adjust the color scheme: Always select the appropriate colors.

7. Create dynamic postures: Not just a front and back view. Try to show the character in his daily life.

8. Come up with a style: Free or strict? Explore their fashion sense and experiment with style.

9. Teach your character to show emotions: Learn how to draw emotions to make characters better!

10. Test alternative versions: If something does not fit, just try changing it. Always experiment until you get the perfect design!

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